Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Haddon)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, 2003

This book was suggested to me by my wife when I asked her about Tuesdays with Morrie. She thought it was a good read and that I'd find it interesting. (Or maybe it was, if I enjoyed Tuesdays, I'd enjoy this one.) Whatever the case, I enjoyed this book.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is something new to me as far as reading goes. The narrator, Christopher, is telling the story, part of which involves writing the book about the incidents in his life, and this is the book that we are reading. Additionally, Christopher has some kind of mental disabilities -- I don't think it was stated outright in the text -- but he is high functioning and good at math. In fact, part of the focus of the book is that he wants to take his "A Levels" exam and pass it with an A grade. (Thanks to twitter and the Math-Twitter-Blog-O-Sphere, I've heard of "A Levels Maths" from British teachers. It's what they call High School math, although it's organized a little differently from the way that I teach it.)

Christopher lives alone with his father and has since the day his father told him that his mother had gone into the hospital. And then his father told him that she died. And then he lives without her for a few years. And then one night, the neighbor's dog is killed with a garden fork. And then he gets blamed. And then he pushes a policeman. And he has a rat named Toby...

It isn't all written this way, but some parts are, and it's enough to get the point across.

Christopher likes Sherlock Holmes and decides to be a detective and try to investigate the dog's death. His father tells him not to stick his nose into places it doesn't belong because he doesn't understand and it can stir up trouble.

It stirs up an adventure for Christopher, which is difficult for him because of the constant assault on all his senses and his not wanting to be touched. And looking after Toby. And wanting to take his A Levels math exams.

And a good story gets told through the eyes of someone who takes it all in, but can't totally process what's happening. And the reader will feel some of the frustration.

One more note: The first chapter is Chapter 2. The second is Chapter 3. The third is Chapter 5. Don't think you missed something. As he explains early on, Christopher is good with prime numbers, so he numbered the chapters using only primes. You didn't miss a Foreward or Introduction somewhere.

The book was made into an award-winning Broadway show, which I have not seen.

Bonus: the Appendix works out a sample Pythagorean Theorem proof. That's a bonus if you're a Math geek.